KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Dr. Ryan Smith, a pediatrician at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, plans to have his 3-year-old twins receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, and he says he wants more parents to follow suit.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show nationwide about 600,000 of the roughly 19 million Americans between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have begun the vaccine regiment; that’s about 3%. The federal government approved a vaccine for children in that age range about three weeks ago.
“I think, unfortunately, it takes numbers rising a little bit for people to understand the risk COVID still poses to the population. So I’ve been cautiously optimistic with our vaccination efforts,” Smith said about vaccination rates among children.
According to data from the Mid-American Regional Council, about 40% of children ages 5 to 11 in the greater Kansas City area have started the vaccine regiment. The number is closer to 60% for children aged 12 to 17.
Smith said contracting COVID-19 poses many more risks for children than receiving the vaccine. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend any eligible child receive the vaccine.
Danielle Johnson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Kansas Health System, had her children vaccinated Monday. Her 5-year-old daughter received her first dose.
“We wanted to make sure that we got them [our children] as safe as possible,” Johnson said. “They have all their other vaccines. They wear seatbelts when they're in the car, they wear a helmet on their bicycle. So we do things that keep them safe and this is another measure to keep them safe.”
Johnson recommends having a conversation with your child about the vaccine and perhaps offering them a reward for receiving the vaccine. Johnson planned to giver her children doughnuts.